Tag Archives: zombies

Popcorned: Coming this summer, it’s the End of the World!


-Casey Klekas

Why is “the end of the world” the lowest common denominator of Hollywood’s latest blockbusters? Probably because we have a healthy obsession with art’s apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic, and dystopian genre. This is not because we live in a so-called “culture of fear,” but because this genre allows us to view our society through retrospective lenses and, in so doing, we gain a unique understanding of the problems at present, illuminated by existential threats to humanity, or the eventual consequences of current practices. They offer a glimpse down the road which might prompt us to ask Siri to plot us a new destination.

After Earth is a film about a father and son (Will and Jaden Smith, no kidding) who crash land on a future, inhospitable mother Earth. For a while, I got this confused with Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise, which is also about the return to a has-been home for humans. Not to be mistaken for Elysium, where a super wealthy minority prospers in a remote community (a wheel-like space habitat known as a Stanford Torus, also known to many from the video game HALO) while the earth is overpopulated with poverty and crime.

Apocalypse movies, such as 2012, The Day After Tomorrow, Terminator 3, and War of the Worlds all show the recognizable world coming to an end, either through natural (possibly human-induced) disaster, nuclear holocaust, the take over of machines, and/or alien invasion. This group actually shows the end of the world, even if humans eventually adapt and prevail. Two upcoming films that focus on Judgment Day are This is the End, starring comedy’s front men Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, and Michael Cera; the other is Pacific Rim about an alien invasion via a wormhole beneath the Pacific Ocean.

Post-apocalypse movies, on the other hand, may show some of the initial disaster, but are mostly focused on what comes after, how societies rebuild, adapt, or struggle to survive. Some are focused on the handful of isolated survivors, like I am Legend, The Postman, and The Road.  Others might show a revived humanity that has endured disasters and taken to rebuilding civilization or else has fled from the surface of the Earth completely (some go below, like the Eloi in The Time Machine, others take to the sky, like in WALL-E, After Earth, Oblivion, and Elysium).

A further category is the dystopian, where society undergoes a profound and often final transformation that we as viewers find morally repugnant. These “end of history” scenarios may come about by natural human progression, or are brought on by devastating wars or as the result of a novel political movement. Normally, some kind of resistance movement develops which we see quashed or succeed. I’d mention the Hunger Games, but I’ve neither seen the movie nor read the books. I should, I know.

So, why do we like this genre so much? Because it tells us about our own time much better than we often can see. Hindsight is twenty-twenty, don’t they say? Most dystopian/apocalypse/post-apocalypse movies, books, and TV shows mythologize the past (our present). They either show a lost paradise, or a reckless people who brought about the world’s end, or something of a combination.

At a very base level, this genre challenges our infinitude. Many suggest that humans cannot be stamped out, that we will evolve whatever the circumstances, such as Kevin “Gills” Costner in Waterworld. Others show simply that the future is up for grabs. You might be more persuaded by Aldous Huxley’s vision of the future, a world full of self-gratification and devoid of meaning. Or you could stick with Orwell and worry that humanity might end up enslaving itself, that “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on the human face—forever.”

Here’s a list of major films that have, are, or will soon hit the theaters: Oblivion, released April 19; The Colony, April 26; M. Night Shyamalan’s After Earth, on May 31; Some levity on June 12 with This is the End; On June 21, Brad Pitt fights zombies in World War Z; Find out what lies beneath the pacific on July 12 with Pacific Rim; Watch the undead be bloody bludgeoned by the incomprehensible west Londoners in Cockney’s vs. Zombies; on August 9 see Matt Damon take on the world’s super rich (including Jodie Foster) in their secluded, serene spacewheel in Elysium, directed by District 9’s Neill Blomkamp; and, on August 23, finish this summer with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as they push through zombies on the way to the pub in The World’s End. (This is the same duo that gave us Shaun of the Dead, quite easily my favorite zombie film, and certainly the best comedy on the undead).

Image from http://www.oblivionmovie2013.com/

Chased By Zombies, Sprinting With Mickey Mouse, & Drinking Beer

-Emily Fraysse

Chased by zombies, sprinting with Mickey Mouse, and drinking beer.

What on Earth do these elements have in common?

Over the past few years, themed races have grown in tremendous popularity. Finding new ways to encourage people to exercise seems to be the latest hype. There has been an influx of new ideas and here are just a few:

Spartan Race

If you love obstacles and a challenge, then you’ll love this race. It is the world’s leading obstacle race series with different levels and styles of racing. In this race, you’ll have to climb, slide, dodge, catch, drag, throw, and think on your feet without knowing what is coming next. If you complete each of the three distance races in a single season, you will be crowned the Ultimate Spartan!

Krispy Kreme Challenge

While most people run to lose the weight that they’ve accumulated after eating doughnuts, others chose to do it simultaneously. After running for precisely 2.5 miles through Raleigh, North Carolina, you go to the downtown Krispy Kreme store and devour exactly one dozen doughnuts, then run 2.5 miles back to the start in under an hour. While you can sign up to be a Casual Runner (you don’t have to eat the doughnuts), who would skimp out on the best part of the race?

Run For Your Lives

Ever wonder what it is really like being chased by zombies? In this race, not only will you be racing against time, but you will be running against “brain-hungry, virus-spreading, zombies.” It works like a flag football game: each person is given a flag belt with a few flags. When all of your flags have been taken by the zombies, then you have officially been infected by the zombie virus.

Disney Races

Disneyland and Disney World offer an array of races to choose from – from individual adult marathons to races with entire families to only kids races to infant diaper dashes. Each of the events has their own theme, including a Disney’s Princess Half Marathon, Tinker Bell Half Marathon, Expedition Everest Challenge, Disneyland Half Marathon, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler, Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon, and Walt Disney World Marathon. During the day or during the night, running around one of the Disney-owned theme parks looks like a blast. Many of these events are accompanied by a Health and Fitness Expo.

The Color Run

“If life hands you color, run with it.” That’s the Color Run’s motto and that is exactly what happens. Starting off, each person gets a certain number of bags full of colored chalk, which you can then proceed to pour, throw, or rub all over your friends and fellow runners. At certain points in the race, there are buckets full of a single color of chalk, which stationed people pour onto you, creating a sandstorm of vibrant colors (as shown above).

Bay to Breakers

This race is world-famous for being the wackiest, craziest race of them all. Held annually in San Francisco, people of all shapes and colors and wearing different costumes come together to run the 12k. The outfits have become so outrageous over the years that a costume contest is now held for different categories.